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💀 Necro [Let's Read] XS2 - Thunderdelve Mountain

JoeNotCharles

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In the BECMI era, TSR put out a couple of official Dungeons & Dragons solo adventures - packaged in a slipcase like a module, but with a gamebook-style "Choose Your Own Adventure + combat" interior. I've got three of them. The first two, "BSOLO - The Ghost of Lion Castle" and "XS2 - Lathan's Gold" are... kind of sterile. They're more like puzzles than narrative adventures: it's all about finding the right path through to maximize the treasure you get and minimize danger. Maybe that's pretty close to the Old School experience, but it's pretty bland when you're doing it yourself alone in your room, and not with a bunch of friends. (Ahem.)

The third one doesn't have that problem. It actually goes beyond most gamebooks I've seen in telling a dramatic, narrative story. It even has a three-act structure! And the locale to explore is awesome - one of the coolest Dwarven ruins I've seen since the Mines of Moria! (This adventure is much better than the Middle-Earth Quest gamebook that took place in Moria, BTW.)

So join me and delveventure into the ruined halls of Thunderdelve!



S1. You settle your compact dwarf frame into a comfortable chair and kick your booted feat up on the table. Closing your weary eyes, you tip the chair back and let the warm smells of the inn drift over you. The last copper in your purse was just exchanged for a frugal meal, and you are wondering how to remedy your poverty, when you feel a tug on your boot-strap. You slowly open one eye and glare at the young boy perched nervously at your side.

"Excuse me, please," he whispers. "There's a dwarf gentleman in the back room who has asked to speak with you."

"What about?" you ask suspiciously.

"I don't know," the boy stammers, "but he told me if I didn't bring you he'd boil me for a pudding."

"Any other message?" you ask, closing your eye.

"He said it paid well."

You sit up and take your feet off the table. You didn't know there were any more dwarves in this area. You heard that the last was driven out years ago from a nearby ruin called Rumble Bell. Their clan was supposed to be extinct! Never one to let ignorance stand in your way, you rise to your feet and follow the boy into a small room. The boy leaves quickly, closing the door.

The room is lit only by the flames in the fireplace. A boiling pot of beef hangs over the fire, filling the room with its rich aroma. Some broth boils over, and, with a hiss, steams on the logs. Seated at the table before you is an ancient dwarf. His shiny black eyes are locked on you as he clenches his hands, then releases them. He motions you to a chair with a nod of his head. He opens his mouth to speak, and you notice that several of his old teeth have been replaced with gold.

"I've heard rumours," he says, "that you are a worthy fighter." You shrug your shoulders. He chuckles. "Good, you're tight-mouthed. My name is Nimron. I’m the Clanmaster of the dwarves in these parts."

"I didn't think there were any," you state bluntly.

"Oh, yes," he says, "though not as many as once. And the rest have been reduced to poverty. But once we were prosperous, and our goods were well-known throughout the world." His voice falls to a whisper. "Fifty years ago I was master of the richest dwarves in the realm. Long did we and our ancestors prosper in our home of Thunderdelve. The upper mansions were beautiful indeed and were called, in our tongue, the Halls of Paradise."

"Paradise," you sneer. "There's no such place. It's a legend taught me at my mother's beard."

"Legend!" snaps Nimron. "Speak not to me of legends! No, my young ignorant, Paradise is real enough. Our mansions were famed for their beauty and industry, and still they lie at Thunderdelve beneath the mountain outside this very town. There lie our mines and Forge. There rots our art and craft, all that is our love for home and stone. There indeed waits our paradise. Speak not to me of empty legends; I have walked within the reality."

"If it's so real, why is it spoken of only as a pixy tale for young dwarves?"

Nimron's eyes flare up, then sink down to stare at the table before him. "My mines became the breeding ground for a hideous fyrsnaca, the giant flame serpents of the earth's heart. Whether it came by chance or was maliciously directed by an evil wizard I justly cheated, I do not know. Surely, though, its cunning and fury were well-planned. In sudden onslaught, the fyrsnaca ate the barracks, the Keeper's home, and much of my suite. It erupted from the mines, burying our forge, devouring the very stone of Thunderdelve, breathing fire, slaying my people, destroying Paradise."

He sits silently for a moment, then looks back at you. "In our panic, no proper defense was made. Nor was it possible! The fyrsnaca attacked, then burrowed back into the rock, then rose and attacked again! I barely escaped by secret stairs, the Keeper's babe in my arms, the fyrsnaca's fiery breath at our back. My own wife and children were lost."

"What became of them and the Keeper, I do not know. Every rescue party I sent failed to return. At last I could spare no more of our pitiful remnant. I raised the Keeper's babe as my own, training her for the day when revenge would ripen into action. She is Grona Marblefist, the Champion, hereditary Keeper of the Forge of Thunderdelve. Now she has ventured into the halls of Thunderdelve, and she too has failed. She is a captive. I ask you to bring her back."

He closes his eyes, bringing his hands up to his face and pressing his head against them. It seems at first that he is in danger of being overcome by grief, but you quickly notice that grief is not the emotion he is struggling against. He is doing his best to contain an anger that has been festering inside him for fifty years. Slowly, he lowers his hands and turns to stare into the fire. In a low voice, he resumes speaking.

"Several years back, the bandit, Redface, and his men took up residence in our outer halls. Somehow they have avoided the fyrsnaca's wrath. I ask you to rescue Grona from them. I do not ask you to drive the bandits out, just return Grona. All I require is Grona! You may keep any treasure you find."

Nimron pulls a valuable ring from his finger and hands it to you without looking. "This ring I give you," he says. "It will outline all the secret ways of Paradise with a witchfire, allowing you freer passage." He pulls a small piece of leather from his pocket. "Here, too, is a rough map of Paradise. It will give you a general idea of your location. I believe that Grona is held in the servants' quarter."

Nimron turns back to you and smiles. "Surely this is a simple matter for one such as yourself?" You smile and nod. Nimron sighs. "I am glad you consent. It is unwise to venture beyond the bandits' confines. I am certain the rest of Thunderdelve is filled with evil beyond your ken. It is most important that you bring Grona back safely. Do not attempt more."

He gives you a bag of 100 gp and tells you of a secret door that will take you into the back halls of Paradise if the front gate is impassable. A strange gleam comes into his eye as he leans toward you. "If you fail to return with Grona," he whispers, "more than your own life is forfeit."

"I'll get her," you mutter as you grab the gold and the ragged map from the table. You leave Nimron's dusky room and go to the stable where you have been making your bed. You pick up your few belongings, don your harness, and head off toward the mountain outside of town. A short march brings you to the main gates of Thunderdelve, the entrance to the Halls of Paradise.

Go to Entry 1.

Before going to entry 1, we need to choose our character! This is BECMI D&D, so if you're familiar with AD&D (or even 3E and later) the character stats should be pretty familiar. All you really need to know is that all dwarves are basically Dwarf Fighters, and lower AC is better (with AC 9 being the base unarmored). Level 7-9 dwarves all use the same hit rolls and saving throws, so the only difference level makes here is to hit points.

Here are your choices:

Code:
[b]Darow Blackaxe[/b]
Level 9 Dwarf
Str 17 (+2)
Int 6 (-1)
Wis 9
Dex 12
Con 13 (+1)
Cha 10
AC: 4 (chain & shield)
hp: 54
AL: N
Special: none
Code:
[b]Goin Cleftfist[/b]
Level 7 Dwarf
Str 12
Int 16 (+2)
Wis 12
Dex 16 (+2)
Con 13 (+1)
Cha 9
AC: 2 (chain & shield + Dex bonus)
hp: 35
AL: N
Special: [i]axe +1[/i]
Code:
[b]Nara Crystalmace[/b]
Level 7 Dwarf
Str 14 (+1)
Int 12
Wis 11
Dex 13 (+1)
Con 10
Cha 13 +1
AC: 3 (chain & shield + Dex bonus)
hp: 35
AL: L
Special: [i]mace +1, +2 vs. undead[/i]
Code:
[b]Ordrin Silverheart[/b]
Level 7 Dwarf
Str 11
Int 12
Wis 9
Dex 18 (+3)
Con 14 (+1)
AC: 1 (chain & shield + Dex bonus)
hp: 42
AL: L
Special: [i]potion of strength[/i]
Code:
[b]Delfi Ironboot[/b]
Level 8 Dwarf
Str 16 (+2)
Int 12
Wis 11
Dex 5 (-2)
Con 17 (+2)
Cha 9
AC: 5 (chain & shield - Dex penalty)
hp: 81
AL: N
Special: [i]shield + 1[/i]
Code:
[b]Nanli Fullbrow[/b]
Level 8 Dwarf
Str 12
Int 11
Wis 9
Dex 12
Con 10
Cha 9
AC: 4 (chain & shield + Dex bonus)
hp: 40
AL: L
Special: [i]sword +3[/i], [i]dagger +1[/i]
So who do we want to be?

 

Badgerish

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Blackaxe or Ironboot!
edit: actually, just Ironboot. Also, I'm saving that name for my next fighter-type dwarf and I'm talking with the GM to get me a decent unarmed attack...
 
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Roger

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My vote is for Darow, the first dude, because adventurers with Int 6 always crack me up.



Cheers,
Roger
 

Davies

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The best option would seem to be Nanli, eighth level with a +3 weapon. While Delfi and Darow have more hit points, they also have low ability scores that could easily trip you up later if this springs any ability score "tests" on you.
 

JoeNotCharles

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(If our first dwarf dies, we're going to start again with another one, BTW. So we may get to good old Int 6 eventually anyway...)
 

JoeNotCharles

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All right, guess that's all the votes I'm gonna get. That's 1 each for Nanli Fullbrow and Delfi Ironboot, and 1.5 for Darow Blackaxe (counting the withdrawn vote as a half - which is the only way to break the tie...)

So here's our Dwarf in all his glory!



It doesn't actually say what weapon he's using, but I'm guess a 1-handed axe based on the name (can't be 2-handed cause he has a shield).

The "victory record" takes the place of XP - cross off a box every time you defeat an enemy. Anything else you don't understand, download Labyrinth Lord!

I've added the map, ring, and pouch of gold that Nimron gave us. Speaking of which, here's the map:



A convenient sheet of graph paper with the entrance marked. No, I'm not going to fill it in - that's for you to do!

The actual sketch map we have in-character is in the lower left quarter. You remember your Dwarven runes, right? If not, here they are:



Armed with his map, his ring, and his axe, Darow sets off for Thunderdelve!



1 You follow the now broken track that leads away from the main road, toward the mountain. It is untended and covered with debris and growth. Around you are the sounds of the forest animals, but little else. As you near the mountain, you leave the track and press on through the undergrowth, always being sure to keep the track within sight. At last you find yourself in a small valley nestled between two of the mountain's spurs. The air around you vibrates with deep echoes of some soundless vibration within the rocks at your feet. The sound is not like that of thunder, but there is still an aptness to the name Thunderdelve, for the atmosphere is filled with the tension one feels after the lightning strikes and before the thunder voices itself.



Set back into a cliffside, under an overhanging ledge, is a large set of thick doors -- the front gates of Thunderdelve. Behind them lie the upper halls of Paradise. They are indeed substantial, made of ironwood and bound with with rusting iron. Intricate grooves running across the doors mark where they were at one time filigreed with silver or gold, but vandals have dug out the precious metals long ago. A rusting portcullis hangs partway in front of the doors. A tangled web of vegetation and rotting debris blocks most of the gateway, but a path has been cleared to the left-hand door. It stands ajar. You can creep closer (2) or looks for the secret entrance old Nimron told you about (158).
 

Badgerish

of or relating to badgers
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Any chance to buy a sling/some javelins or throwing axes/a crossbow for some type of ranged weapon? Not our speciality of course, but damned important when it comes up.

I would say (2) creep closer and investigate a little. But if there is any sign of traps/wards to head for the secret entrance (158).
I'm going to change my mind again, skip straight to the secret entrance (158), there must be some type of defences/traps in place on the front door, the KNOW there are bandits here.
 

JoeNotCharles

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Any chance to buy a sling/some javelins or throwing axes/a crossbow for some type of ranged weapon? Not our speciality of course, but damned important when it comes up.
We weren't given any option to buy more equipment, so no. Sorry.

I'm going to change my mind again, skip straight to the secret entrance (158), there must be some type of defences/traps in place on the front door, the KNOW there are bandits here.
Ok:

158. You skirt the mountain and find the small waterfall. Following his directions, you creep underneath the overhanging ledge, so that you are between the waterfall and the mountainside. The ring on your finger tingles and you see witchfire outline a secret door in the rock. You open it and creep inside. Go to 160.
160. You are at the top of a short flight of rough hewn steps. It is dark, but you can tell that the cuts in the stone are fresh. Water is dripping, and some of the steps look slippery. You can proceed down the stairs into Paradise and Thunderdelve (161) or go outside (162).
We just came from outside, so obviously we continue...

161. You proceed carefully on the dark, slippery stairs, your infravision used to full capacity. Roll 1d20. If the number is greater than your Dexterity, go to 163. Otherwise, go to 164.
1d20=2 - success!

164. You nearly slip on the slimy steps, but catch yourself. If you are leaving Thunderdelve, go to 162. If you are entering Thunderdelve, go to 159.
159



You are in a small dusty room. There is no sign of life. Your ring outlines a secret door on the west. A set of rough stairs leads up. Some of the steps Iook wet and slippery You can open the secret door (154) or climb the stairs (161).
Last chance to turn back! Ah, I know you won't turn back now...

154



You find yourself in a bedroom. On the northern wall is a canopied bed draped in silk and satin, layered with pillows. On the south wall is a cot covered with fur throws. You may investigate (155). exit through the secret door your ring outlines on wall (159) or exit to the west (149).
Spoiler: Show

HP: 54 / 54 AC: 4 THAC0: 15 Victories: 0
Str: 17 (+2) Int: 6 (-1) Wis: 9 Dex: 12 Con: 13 (+1) Cha: 10
Poison/DR: 4 Wands: 5 Paralysis/TTS: 6 Dragon Breath: 7 Rod/Staff/Spell: 8
Equipment: Backpack, Tinderbox, Iron Spikes, 1 Large Sack, Chain Mail, Shield, Hand Axe, Map of Thunderdelve, Ring of Secret Door Detection, 100 gp
 
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Andurion

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I love choose your own adventure stories. :)

We just came from outside, so obviously we continue...
Well, 162 is a different number than 158, which we came in on. So perhaps they're different? However, if they are, I suspect 162 will have us encounter those bandits, so I would have pressed on anyway. :)

I say we investigate the bedroom!
 

JoeNotCharles

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155. You quickly look through the dirty furs but find nothing. If there is anything of value in this room it should be under the bed. However, you find nothing there or in the sidetable. You see that a section section of the bed's carved headboard does not fit properly. You may investigate (156), or exit through the secret door (159) or through the western door (149).
I see no reason why anybody who said, "Search the room," in the first place would not want to search the obvious secret compartment...

156. Inside the compartment is a small bag of 50 gp and a phial of red liquid labelled "Poison for sword". If you wish to use the liquid on your weapon, cross FF off your Event Record. If you wish to sip the liquid, go to 157. You can also exit through the secret door (159) or the western door (149).
The Event Record is a chart on the page after the character sheet that, as you can see, records whether we've done stuff. Should I cross off FF? And which of these numbered actions should I take?

Spoiler: Show

HP: 54 / 54 AC: 4 THAC0: 15 Victories: 0
Str: 17 (+2) Int: 6 (-1) Wis: 9 Dex: 12 Con: 13 (+1) Cha: 10
Poison/DR: 4 Wands: 5 Paralysis/TTS: 6 Dragon Breath: 7 Rod/Staff/Spell: 8
Event Record: none
Equipment: Backpack, Tinderbox, Iron Spikes, 1 Large Sack, Chain Mail, Shield, Hand Axe, Map of Thunderdelve, Ring of Secret Door Detection, Phial of Red Liquid, 150 gp
 
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